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Interaction in a discussion list: An exploration of cognitive, social, and teaching presence in teachers’ online collaborations

  • Fatemeh Nami (a1), S. Susan Marandi (a2) and Elaheh Sotoudehnama (a3)

Discussion lists have gained a significant popularity in professional development research over the past few decades for the opportunity they provide for asynchronous interaction. This article presents findings from a small-scale case study that aimed at exploring the nature of teachers’ asynchronous exchanges in a discussion list. The data comprised the archived log of the messages in a Yahoo Group discussion list by five in-service English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers who volunteered to take part in a hybrid computer-assisted language learning (CALL) teacher education course in a state university in Iran. The discussion list was incorporated into the course to engage participants in professional dialogue on topics related to technology/CALL. During the initial data analysis, participants’ asynchronous exchanges were grouped as suggestions, questions, unclassified, answers, and delivery, drawing upon Oriogun and Cave’s (2008) SQUAD categorization, following the constant comparative method of analysis. Through a follow-up computer-mediated discourse analysis, cognitive, social, and teaching presence functional moves were identified in the data. Participants used the space not only for socializing and peer instruction but also for constructing knowledge. Despite an uneven pattern of contribution, asynchronous exchanges provided opportunities for knowledge construction at different levels of cognitive presence on topics ranging from technology tools and their affordances/constraints to computer-assisted language testing, materials development, and classroom management. The findings provide CALL teacher education researchers and course designers insights into the potential of asynchronous interaction for online and blended language teacher education.

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